Reichardt’s ‘River Of Grass’ Reissued: A First Film At A Fast Pace

By Ella taylor


… The weapon ends up in the woefully incapable hands of Lee Ray Harold, a wastrel played with hilariously insufficient menace by the horror auteur Larry Fessenden, who also edited and co-produced River of Grass. Given the pervasive pauses for inertia and gross incompetence, you may not be shocked to hear that Cozy, Larry and the gun are fated to meet in a bar, that the gun will go off, that there may or may not be a murder, which may or may not be solved. For this Bonnie and Clyde, just getting on the road is a logistical nightmare.

River of Grass is very funny, but in a more somber key it also test-drives what will become Reichardt’s specialty: the transformation of cheerless wastelands into backdrops for journeys of the parched soul. Her subsequent films are sadder, more freighted with the pain and alienation of an America that, one way or another, has put so many of its inhabitants out on the roadside. Reichardt invariably speaks for the dispossessed, and all her films must be seen. But River of Grass is her vital firstborn juiced by the fresh, untidy vitality of a newbie filmmaker doffing her cap to B-movies and the French New Wave. In that film she gives life’s castaways the gift of merriment, and an ending that holds up half the sky.

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